Fancy a martini but minus the booze? Check out our list of alcohol-free gins
There’s nothing like a refreshing gin and tonic following a long day at work… or is there? Now, a new breed of low- and no-alcohol gins means you can enjoy all the deliciousness of a sophisticated mixed drink but without the headache the next day.
Whether you’re a full-time member of the sober society, the designated driver on a night out or you just fancy a break from the hard stuff, the plethora of 0% proof spirits on the market right now will ensure you’re not stuck sipping sparkling water all night. From copper-distilled spirits to blushing pink gins, citrussy serves and everything in between, there’s sure to be a bottle to suit your taste.
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How to choose the best alcohol-free gin for you
How much should I spend?
What may come as a surprise is that alcohol-free spirits cost the same – if not more – than their alcoholic counterparts. And the reason for this is because the process to make such drinks – perfecting the blend, distillation, and then removing the alcohol – can be as involved as it is with the real stuff.
As a result, expect to pay around the £15-£25 mark, just as you would for most 70cl bottles of spirit. Note that there are exceptions above and below this ballpark figure, however.
Low, or no?
Some non-alcoholic gin makers believe that by allowing a hint of alcohol to remain, their product offers a superior taste. These low-alcohol gins are usually around 4% ABV, which becomes negligible once it’s mixed with tonic water or other soft drinks. Our list comprises 0% gins, but if you’re not fully ruling out alcohol completely, we’d recommend checking out some of these so-called “small gins”.
What should I look for?
Shop for alcohol-free gin in the same way you would for your regular preferred spirit. Think about the season, the flavours you tend to enjoy and how you plan to drink it. Summer screams pink gin, while classic serves are best with juniper to the fore; cocktails require a bold all-rounder to shine through the other ingredients.
How we test alcohol-free gin
Like all of our straight spirit reviews, we select the best 0% gins for the job by taste-testing them. We look for classic – or inventive – gin aromas and flavours on the nose and on the palate, with extra points for those that have a real, authentic alcoholic smell and taste to them – harder than it sounds to achieve. As with most alcoholic gins, each brand tends to have a signature serve which we try alongside testing the spirit neat and in various styles of gin and tonic.
We invite a few gin fans who also enjoy an occasional alcohol-free version to test the gins with us to allow a wider spectrum of taste preferences. Tasting the gins together means we can easily rate each bottle against other competitors on the market and pick the best selection for our list.
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Salcombe Gin creates exceptional, multi-award-winning spirits at its waterside distillery, and its first foray into 0% gin is equally a triumph. Inspired by the heritage of London Dry gin and the exotic cargo of the Salcombe fruit schooner, trading fruits and spices with the Americas from its beautiful home in South Devon, New London Light is crafted by distilling Macedonian juniper, warming ginger and spicy habanero into a base spirit. The spirit is then blended with classic woody botanicals – rosemary, sage and cascarilla bark – and aromats such as cardamom, lemongrass and orange, to create a complex sip. Finished with a pinch of sea salt, this coastal gin has all the flavours of our favourite Salcombe gin, but without fear of suffering a hangover. Every bottle purchased helps regenerate 1m² of seagrass in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, which makes it a win-win in our book. Serve long in a tall glass with light tonic, a slice of orange and a sage leaf.
2. CleanCo Clean G Rhubarb: The best flavoured alcohol-free gin
Price: £19 | Buy now from Sainsbury’s
CleanCo has a few non-alcoholic gin replacements in its lineup, but the Clean G Rhubarb is our favourite. Housed in a pretty pink hexagonal bottle, this looks more expensive than its £19 suggests, making it feel like a treat to drink before you’ve even had a sip. This gin is CleanCo’s take on London Dry, with a crisp juniper flavour combined with lemon, coriander and grapefruit, along with earthy angelica (a celery-like herb) and orris (a fragrant, violet-scented root) for that familiar citrus/herbaceous gin flavour. There’s a hint of cinnamon to level things out and it’s tempered with wonderfully tart rhubarb and sweet raspberries. We like that this flavoured gin isn’t too sweet; it feels like a proper adult drink. Lovely on a hot day, or any day, serve yourself a double measure with tonic, ice, slice and a berry or two, safe in the knowledge you’ll stay completely clear-headed.
3. Crossip Fresh Citrus Non-Alcoholic Macerated Spirit: The best citrus alcohol-free gin
Price: £22 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re a fan of citrussy gins, then you’ll love this spirit from Crossip – it’s citrus gin on steroids, but without any of the booze. Created by mixologist Carl Anthony Brown using his 15 years of bartending experience, Crossip was born of his love for cocktails, but also for fitness and an awareness of mental health. Using botanical ingredients to make macerated spirits, this Fresh Citrus variety is a heady mix of orange, lemon, grapefruit and a wallop of mandarin, plus plenty of fire from ginger extract and more than a pinch of cayenne, giving this gin that alcohol-burn without the alcohol. Great in cocktails such as a Paloma or Tom Collins, or simply mixed with tonic, it should be no surprise to discover that Crossip has found its way onto menus at eateries Dishoom, Coppa Club and Daisy Green.
4.KVÎST Rosa: The best alcohol-free pink gin
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
With an aroma that’s closest to the real thing, with plenty of juniper and forest botanicals on the nose, sipped straight up the KVÎST Rosa is rather more balanced. This is thanks to a blend of distilled silver birch, orange peel, pimento, cascarilla bark, gentian, cardamom and subtle rhubarb root alongside those juniper-heavy notes. The juniper character is retained as a result of copper pot distilling, a Nordic tradition, which is what makes this feel like a true alcoholic gin. Keep the feeling going by mixing equal measures of KVÎST Rosa and tonic over ice.
5.Amplify Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirit: The best non-alcoholic gin for cocktails
Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon
This (very pretty) bottle proved divisive. On the one hand, the strong scents and flavours of sweet orange, lemon and bitter orange give a clear citrus gin-like profile, but some found the citrus character overpowering. Amplify’s makers say that this gin is best enjoyed with Mediterranean tonic, which brings out the orange notes in this Spanish coupe-style gin. However, others found the absence of alcohol very noticeable: there’s none of that tell-tale burn that you get with gin, something the brand hasn’t attempted to recreate with the addition of any warming spices. Nevertheless, the orange notes work really well mixed into your favourite cocktails, and the more subtle pops of ginseng, juniper and exotic lemongrass give a traditional gin-like character. We like that they stock premixed cans with tonic, too.
6. Bowser Leaf: The best botanical alcohol-free gin
Price: £20 | Buy now from Master of Malt
Conker Spirit from Dorset has turned its hand to making something for the sober crew – and we rather like it. As you may have guessed from the name, Bowser Leaf is extremely… leafy. This is a botanically led herbaceous gin, with upfront notes of mint, tarragon, basil, thyme and patchouli, to name a few. The level of herbiness almost makes it spicy, which delivers that all-important warming feeling that can so often be missing from non-alcoholic substitutes. Drink it in the usual way with tonic (add mint and cucumber for extra drama) or, as Bowser calls it, a “Low Martini” – just stirred up with a splash of vermouth and an olive.